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GROUNDBREAKING 'GATEWAY' TO GIVE EASY ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT ONLINE

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People will be able to access online government services and ...
People will be able to access online government services and

information and carry out their business with government online much

more easily in future by using a single 'gateway' point of access,

said minister for the Cabinet Office, Jack Cunningham today.

The commitment is one of 62 listed in a detailed Action Plan for the

first two years of the Modernising government Programme launched

today by Dr Cunningham. Following the publication of the Modernising

government White Paper in March, the Action Plan details specific

commitments in a wide range of key areas. Action to come includes:

* By December, the government will run a trial of a single electronic

'gateway'. This will open up a range of one stop shop services, such

as providing information about a change of address to different parts

of government in one go.

* Government websites will give more information and be more

convenient to use under new guidelines to be issued by the Cabinet

Office's Central IT Unit in November.

* By 1 October, government departments and agencies will have

standards in place covering the length of time users should wait to

be seen in public offices, and for calls to be answered by telephone

enquiry points. They will also have established an e-mail enquiry

point.

* A report on the way ahead for the civil service will be published

in the autumn. This will include a vision of the service's future

direction in the light of Modernising government and recommendations

on pay and incentives to reward high quality service and act as an

incentive to innovate.

* Businesses and the public will benefit from the introduction of a

phone line one stop shop service on regulations which will be

available in 16 pilot local authorities in the autumn. Infoshop will

enable front line staff to provide comprehensive and consistent

information on the first point of contact on issues such as whether

planning permission is needed or how best to ensure workers' safety.

* For the first time the public will be able to judge government's

progress against key commitments in delivering their services set out

in Public Service Agreements (PSAs), when information on their

progress is published in March next year.

* Front line staff from, among others, the NHS, local authorities and

schools, will tell senior civil servants what it takes for policies

to work in practice at regular meetings, the first of which will take

place in September.

* A programme of peer reviews will be set up by December which will

help Whitehall departments provide feedback to one another about the

progress they are making in modernising how they work.

* The Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit will set out

in October how the right incentives and financial management can be

put in place to get departments working better together to deliver

joined up services and tackle difficult cross cutting issues.

Dr Cunningham said:

'When I launched Modernising government I said that it would be a ten

year programme, and to be true modernisers we would need a detailed

plan of the huge range of activity we must undertake to be

successful. We now have this plan in place and I will be closely

monitoring progress against it.

'We are making progress against the full range of Modernising work -

creating responsive high quality public services involving the

innovative use of IT, producing better policy making, and equipping

public servants with the means to deliver modernised services.'

Key action already achieved includes:

* 38 per cent of central government services are available

electronically (the White Paper set a target that 100 per cent of

services would be available electronically by 2008 where there is a

demand for them).

* The Cabinet Office is vetoing policies which impose unnecessarily

high regulatory burdens on businesses and is acting as a champion of

businesses to ensure departments' proposals for regulations are

assessed at the earliest possible stage. A Guide for Ministers and

officials on how to be more effective in negotiating European

regulations, which will reduce burdens on business, was published

last week.

* New measures to tackle inequality in the civil service have been

announced and the first ever Civil Service Careers Fair for minority

ethnic students was held this month.

* The Centre for Management and Policy Studies (CMPS) is up and

running, with one of its priorities being to design joint training

for ministers and civil servants on policy making.

* The second round of the Invest to Save Budget has been launched

which allows public service organisations to bid for money to develop

projects designed to deliver better services to their users - in an

innovative, 'joined up', locally responsive and more efficient

manner.

* There have been 12 Listening to Women events around the country and

four Listening to Older People events, with six still to come. These

will help ministers to make policies based on hard evidence of these

groups' concerns.

* All permanent secretaries now have personal objectives for taking

forward Modernising government, against which their performance will

be assessed.

NOTES

1. The Modernising government White Paper (ISBN 0 10 143 102 3) was

published on 30 March. Copies are available from The Stationery Office.

2. The Action Plan is available on the internet at:

www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/moderngov/1999/action. Copies of

the Action Plan are available from the Modernising

government secretariat on 0171 270 5856.

3. The Action Plan is being distributed to: ministers, permanent

secretaries and other heads of departments, chief executives of

government agencies and major NDPBS, local authorities in the UK

and voluntary bodies.

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